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Fact Sheet
Gerry McMahon, Senior Technical Officer, DPIFM Darwin
Name: Carambola, star fruit, five-corner, bilimbing, Yang Tao Averrhoa
carambola (Oxalidacea).
Origin: Malaysia/ Indonesia.
Distribution: Malaysia is the major producer but carambola is widely
grown across the world in the zone from 30ºN and 30ºC of the equator.
Australian Distribution: Carambola is grown in northern NSW, coastal
Queensland and around Darwin in the NT.
Preferred Climate and Soil Types: Carambola prefers a wet, humid
climate or climates with a distinct dry season. It likes a well-drained, clayloam soil with a pH of 5.5 – 6.5 and will withstand some waterlogging. It
cannot tolerate drought conditions or salt.
Description: It is a medium sized tree that will grow to 6-8 m but is usually
kept much shorter for tree management. The attractive pink/mauve flowers
form along all branches including some on the main trunks. The fruit has a
distinctive shape with predominantly five “wings” on each fruit, hence the
name, five-corner fruit. When cut into slices the characteristic star pattern
Varieties: The material imported into Australia can be grouped into two
types with long and short styled flowers. Flowers with a short style need a
long style variety to achieve pollination. Long style flowers are selfcompatible.
The cultivars B2, B10, B11 and Fwang Tang are currently being grown
commercially with some local selections performing well. Carambola can be
grown from seed but the quality of the fruit produced by seedlings is usually
poor and inconsistent. Grafted trees are recommended.
Crops, Forestry and
Horticulture Division
GPO Box 3000
Darwin NT 0801
Tel: 08 8999 2357
Fax: 08 8999 2049
Email: [email protected]
While all reasonable efforts
have been made to ensure that
the information contained in
this publication is correct, the
information covered is subject
to change. The Northern
Territory Government does not
assume and hereby disclaims
any express or implied liability
whatsoever to any party for any
loss or damage caused by
errors or omissions, whether
these errors or omissions result
from negligence, accident or
any other cause.
Published 2003
Culture: Carambola trees stay active all year in the tropics and need a
regular supply of water and NPK + trace elements and calcium fertilisers.
Fruit size and quality is quickly affected by drought stress and nutrient
deficiency. Regular pruning is necessary to maintain tree size and allow
light and air penetration. The trees respond very well to heavy pruning,
often flowering again immediately after pruning. In the Northern Territory
nets are needed to protect the trees from bird damage.
Pests and Diseases: Sulphur-crested cockatoos can destroy entire crops
and damage the smaller branches of carambola trees. Permanent bird
netting is recommended in the NT to protect the year-round production.
Nets also help to reduce fruit sucking moth damage. Insect pests include
fruit fly, fruit sucking moth, fruit eating caterpillars, green vegetable bugs,
flatids and red-banded thrip. Treatments for all insect pests are available
from DPIFM. Disease is not a big issue in the NT.
Fruiting Season: Fruit is produced all year round in the Darwin rural area.
There is a slight drop in production during the cool period May/ June but it
is not uniform across the region. Queensland on the other hand has distinct
fruiting periods, which have the effect of lowering southern market prices
for those periods. In a backyard situation for the Darwin region the trees will
flower and fruit all year if watered regularly and fed every three months with
an NPK fertiliser.
Harvesting: Carambola fruit is picked mature and harvested by hand to protect it from rough handling.
The wings are easily damaged which makes the fruit unsaleable. The fruit is treated for fruit fly, cleaned
and packed into trays and sent by surface or air transport to southern markets. Care is taken in the
packing process to protect the wings from damage during transport. The fruit is picked when there is a
tinge of yellow showing on the fruit called yellow/green fruit or slightly more mature as green/yellow fruit.
Full yellow fruit is too ripe to send to market.
Storage Conditions: The fruit stores well in refrigerated conditions. Fruit can be stored for up to five
weeks at 10ºC and for 10 weeks at 5ºC, without loss of flavour.
Culinary Use: Carambola is most commonly eaten as a fresh fruit that is very high in potassium and
vitamin A and has good levels of iron and vitamin C. There is some astringency associated with the
points of the wings, which can be removed during preparation of the fresh fruit. Cut into stars or wings, it
is used to decorate salads and desserts and carambola makes a delicious fruit juice.
Refer to Carambola Preparation Information Sheet – IO8.
© Northern Territory Government, 2006
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